The title already says it all: make sure that your proposal answers the following 11 questions. Why? Because the ERC panel will tackle this issue themselves (so, make it easy for them!).

1. Is your project new, innovative, creating novel solutions or theories?

Make sure that you focus on the aspects of your proposal that are radically different from what has been done in the past. Don’t just say it is “innovative”, explain why and how it is innovative.

2. Does it go beyond the state-of-the art?

Similar to the one above, panel members will need to reply to this question when they justify their evaluation scores. You need to be able to justify why your project is groundbreaking (not just say “this project is groundbreaking”). Moreover, you need to show why it is significant and how it will affect your field.

3. Why your project?

You need to specify the need of why your project should be carried out. Besides focusing on what is your project about, also focus on the why of your project. Think big. Your idea needs to be something that the ERC really needs to fund (versus national funding agencies).

4. Have you proven or supported your case? Do you have a hypothesis?

In fact, many panels like hypothesis-driven proposals (although this is not compulsory, of course). Make sure that your hypothesis is clear and includes any supporting evidence to it. Also, are the goals realistic? They must be ambitious, but not overambitious. 

5. Is it timely?

Why hasn’t this been done in the past? Explain it. Highlight why is now the perfect time to carry out your project.

6. What’s the risk?

Risk assessment needs to be included, to a certain extent, in both parts B1 and B2. Nobody expects the whole proposal to be high risk. Typically, there will be different levels of risk and you need to show that you have thought about how you will manage it. Also, does the risk justify the potential gain? Is the risk maybe too early in the project? Have you proposed alternatives? Risk assessment is more than a proof of maturity, it reflects how you think, and that your choices and alternatives are well-thought.

7. Have you explained your collaborations? Is it a realistic picture?

Please make sure that you show that your project is not a collaborative project. You are the driver of the project and you collaborate with others when you are missing a certain expertise or a certain facility or instrument. Your proposal should describe very clearly that you are the one leading the collaboration.

8. Why are you the best (or maybe the only) person to carry this out?

This includes knowing your competitors, what is the status in your field, and why your approach is better than theirs.

9. Have you shown independence in the past?

This is predominantly for less senior applicants. You have to be able to handle 5 years of funding. So, please state if you have had a similar experience in the past. You can list your past endeavours, your funding, explain your previous roles, and your contributions if you didn’t have funding yet.

10. Are you internationally recognised, active, and competitive in the field?

Please describe if you have served in committees or as an editor, describe any research mobility in your career, and any international collaborations that you are involved in or leading. This part will depend on what type of grant you are applying for.

11. Have you shown your scientific leadership in your CV? How would you place yourself in your field? 

Make sure this is clear, specially if you are a less senior applicant.


We encourage you to keep in mind these questions when you write your upcoming grant application! Good luck!

This information was extracted from an ERC video, you can watch it here.